By Kevin Williams
With a large families, bread can go a long way towards feeding many people inexpensively. Bread serves as the building blocks for sandwiches, French toast, stuffing, and puddings. Need a quick meal? Slap together a sandwich.
Homemade bread is a staple in most Amish kitchens, but sometimes they have bread that goes stale before it can be eaten. No worries, that generally doesn't go to waste. Now with these ideas, stale bread can be repurposed in your kitchen also!
But, first let's get an awesome recipe for Amish white bread!
BASIC WHITE BREAD
1 package active dry yeast
2 ½ cups lukewarm water
Lard (the size of an egg); you can substitute shortening here if needed
2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Enough bread flour to make a soft dough (usually about 5 cups)
Grease pans and set aside.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in a ½ cup warm water. In a large bowl, combine the lard, sugar, salt and the remaining 2 cups of water. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and stir until combined. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing until the dough is elastic and doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 ½ hours in a warm, draft-free place.
Punch the dough down and place on lightly floured surface. Cut the the dough into 2 equal portions. Punch down a little more and form each into a loaf. Place the dough into greased loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until the dough is level with the loaf pan, about 40-50 minutes. Pierce each loaf several times with a fork.
While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on top. After removing the bread from the over, brush with butter for a softer crust. Remove the bread from the pans and place on cooling rack.
The bread freezes well and will keep for up to 6 months.
A reader who tried the recipe gave the following tip: place a cast iron pan on lower rack in oven and let heat. When you place the bread in the oven to cook, pour 1-2 cups of water into heated pan and leave in closed over for 5-10 minutes. The steam makes a fabulous crust on the bread.
So, what do you do with stale bread?
TO RESTORE STALE BREAD: Can be dried out completely, over the stove and stored in lard cans or jars. When ready to use, place the bread slices in the steamer and steam until heated through. Serve warm. If you have no steam, use a colander over a pan of hot water. Keep covered.
BACON BREAD FOR BIRDS: Pour bacon grease over pieces of leftover bread. Let harden. Then put a string through the center and tie it to the branch or tree for the birds.
CHOCOLATE BREAD CUSTARS
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
3 cups scalded milk
4 cups bread crumbs
3 /4 cup sugar
1 /4 teaspoon salt
3 well-beaten eggs
Combine chocolate and milk. Heat and stir until chocolate melts. Add bread, sugar, and salt. Slowly stir this into the pan of hot water. Bake in moderate oven about 50 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serve warm with creamy vanilla sauce.
CREAMY VANILLA SAUCE
1 /4 cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon flour
1 cup light cream
Combine all the ingredients in the oven given and then put into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in 1 /2 teaspoon vanilla.
OLD-FASHIONED BREAD CUSTARD
Omit the chocolate above and add 1 teaspoon nutmeg.
EASY BREAD PIE
Need an inexpensive dessert? Crumble up that loaf of day-old homemade bread and make a “bread pie.” Bread pie is so simple I can just tell you how to make it: fill a pie crust with crumbled homemade bread, then fill the crust about ¾ full with milk. Sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon over it and bake at 350 until firm. This is a surprisingly delicious pie especially if you go heavy on the cinnamon!
LEFTOVER PIE CRUSTS
HANS WACHTLIN: (means "Little Hands")Made with a small amount of leftover pie dough. Roll out thin. Spread with apple butter. Roll up like a jelly roll and cut into 1 /2 inch slices. Lay them on a pie pan with cut side down and bake at 350 till golden.
SUGAR PIES: Roll leftover pie doughthin. Fit it into a small tinfoil pan (4 - 5 inches). Into the crust, put 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, ½ cup water and nutmeg to taste. A bit of cream may be added. Mix with figer or back of spoon and bake.
BAKED, BROKEN PIE CRUSTS: Can be refresh by putting in the oven for a few minutes. Add to applesace just before serving. Stir in cream 9whipped). Blend. Cinnamon may also be added.